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Alma mater touch-up necessary

Editorial | It’s about time our school anthem makes room for women

The University alma mater underwent a significant change that came to light this weekend at the Arkansas football game. When the lyrics came on the screen, they no longer boasted of “becoming a man.”

And we say thank goodness for that.

One of the song’s problematic stanzas has, since 1873, read: “My father sent me to old Rutgers/ And resolv’d that I should be a man.” We think that should stay in 1873. The newly revised line now goes, “From far and near we came to Rutgers/ And resolved to learn all that we can.” Sounds much more 2013, if we do say so ourselves.

We get it: Changing the momentous line, which means so much to many of our alumni, is messing with tradition. But honestly, who cares about tradition when progress is clearly needed? The alma mater was written back when the University was still an all-male school. And, it was written years before the major strides we’ve seen for women in society. University spaces have traditionally been very male-centric. In fact, having women populate spaces of higher education is still a relatively new development, and it’s about time our alma mater made room for them.

While the original line excludes half of the student body, it also alienates many of the remaining half. It’s understandable that the whole “becoming a man” thing really just means gaining maturity, but it also draws on outdated definitions of masculinity and what it really means to “be a man.”

What we really have a problem with isn’t so much the lyric change, but rather everybody’s reaction to it. So what if the alma mater has been around for a long time? Many things have been. That doesn’t mean they should stay that way. We’re all for progress, and we are staunchly against people hanging onto tradition for the sake of tradition.

We’re fairly certain that prior to our article on this, no current student knew that the alma mater underwent a similar change back in the 1980s. The old version referred to “my boys,” which was changed to “my friends” to reflect the changing tide of the times (somewhere in there we could probably thank Gloria Steinem for that.) Making the change for political correctness wasn’t a bad thing then, and it definitely isn’t a bad thing now. And, just like our current classes didn’t know of the past change, we’re sure that future classes won’t remember today’s hullabaloo either.

While we wish that the Glee Club wasn’t the sole party in on the decision, the change probably wouldn’t have been made otherwise. The line holds sentimental value, yes, but it’s more important to have an alma mater that properly reflects its students. What’s the point of an alma mater otherwise?

We finally made a decision that has been a very, very long time coming. We encourage the Rutgers community to not only accept it, but also to move forward with it.

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